Who was/is Bill Browning ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Bill Browning (Echo Valley Boys)
1931 - 1978
'Wash Machine Boogie' by the Echo Valley Boys was the Island Record Company's first release in April 1957. Like many of the more obscure 50s recordings now regarded as rockabilly classics by boppers and collectors alike, that release has been as extensively bootlegged as it has been 'covered' by rockabilly bands from the 70s to the present day.
The Echo Valley Boys were Bill Browning, Merl Hoaf, Jackie Wooten, Art Fulks, Roy Barker and Marshall Looney. Browning was the catalyst and his songs and arrangements dominate the ten or so releases on Island Records credited to him and the band. Bill was born Wilmer L. Browning on May 16th 1931 in Wayne County, West Virginia. He took up the guitar at the age of fourteen and formed a band, the Kanawha Valley Boys in 1947. Until they were drafted into the services in 1950, the band broadcast their own show over WTIP in Charleston, West Virginia, and got a reputation in the area for good up-tempo hillbilly music in dance halls and on picnics.
In August 1955, Bill moved to Cleveland, Ohio and formed the Echo Valley Boys, who soon had a regular Saturday night spot on the locally broadcast Circle Theater Jamboree. In early 1957, Bill sent a recording to Frank J Videmsek of Island Records and they began a long relationship. His first single, 'Wash Machine Boogie' coupled with 'Ramblin' Man' was soon on the presses, and became a hot request on local radio.
Frank Videmsek was convinced he had a star on his hands and persevered with Bill for the next three years. Despite disc sales being less than exciting, the Echo Valley Boys gained quite a name for themselves, appearing on WWVA's Jamboree, broadcast from Wheeling, West Virginia where WWVA dj and fellow rockabilly performer Hardrock Gunter remembers spinning Browning's recordings regularly.
After leaving Island, Bill Browning appeared on Starday and other labels and he continued to record and write songs until his death in January 1978.
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